JJ 05/63: The Jazz Crusaders – Lookin’ Ahead

Sixty years ago, Graham Boatfield liked the JC's soul-tinged sound, a decade before they dropped jazz from their name and went the full funky. First published in Jazz Journal May 1963


The Jazz Crusaders is a group of young musicians from Texas, now work­ing on the West Coast. Their native toughness is shown in the guttiness of their music; they function as a unit, and produce a driving modern jazz which has a good deal of maturity and the be­ginnings of their own sound and style.

Soul has to be part of the stock in trade, and the two tracks in this idiom – “Big Hunk Of Funk” and “Sinning Sam” (complete with tambourines) – have vocal-style qualities and fierce insistence in common with a typical Mingus per­formance.

Wilton Felder’s tenor has a sound which derives from Coltrane, including the current oboe tone, a manner which owes something to Ornette Coleman, and his own poise. Wayne Henderson’s trombone has plenty of technique, owes a debt to J. J. Johnson, and blends very well with the other front-line horn. There is some strong and positive bass from Jimmy Bond, and altogether this group makes an impact – impressing with its energy and strong enthusiasms.

These are young jazzmen to watch.

Song Of India; Big Hunk Of Funk; Tonight; 507 Neyland; Till All Ends (19½ min) – Tortoise And The Hare; In A Dream; Sinning Sam; The Young Rabbits (17½ min)
Wilton Felder (ten); Wayne Henderson (tbn); Joe Sample (p); Jimmy Bond (bs); Sticks Hooper (d).
(Fontana 688.117.ZL 12inLP 33s.1d.)